Sure, pregnancy is awesome and wonderful. But it can also be kind of… unpleasant, at least at times, and at least in terms of how it can make you feel. There’s the morning sickness, the changes to your body, the health challenges, and all kinds of strange side effects. Getting there can be a bit of a process, but that doesn’t take anything away from the joy of being a parent.
And now there’s another possible small disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.
Pregnancy isn’t usually the first thing you think of when someone is talking about hearing loss. So it may be a surprise to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is somewhat prevalent. It’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-induced hearing loss isn’t something you should be concerned about in most cases. In other cases, the cause is a serious issue and may call for immediate medical attention. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss subside? Well, the answer kind of depends on the underlying cause, and how fast you treat it.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-induced hearing loss?
You typically won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. Things like morning sickness are a lot more cinematic. This means that, generally speaking, people may be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to watch out for can be helpful.
After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss are about more than cranking the volume up on your television. Here are some of the most common:
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, known as tinnitus, is often linked to pregnancy-induced hearing loss. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some cases, sound like your own heartbeat which is known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. You should talk to your physician about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be impacted by pregnancy-related hearing loss, or in some cases a pre-existing problem with the inner ear can be the source of that hearing loss. Whenever your inner ear isn’t working properly, you might experience problems with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. And that also goes for pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this indication of hearing loss is the most obvious. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” happens abruptly and can be more noticeable. Any form of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be reported to your healthcare team as soon as possible. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible, you may require emergency treatment.
- You feel a fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears frequently accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
None of these symptoms are necessarily universal. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you may experience some symptoms but not others. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the related symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s generally a good plan to talk to your provider. Because these symptoms might be an indication of a more serious concern.
What causes pregnancy-induced hearing loss?
Does being pregnant affect hearing? Well, maybe, in some cases. But other parts of your body are affected by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then impact your hearing.
So, what are the possible causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? Here are some of the most common causes:
- Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be blocked by a disorder called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too quickly. Pregnancy produces hormonal changes and other body changes that can lead to this kind of bone growth. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and exactly how much it impacts hearing, is continuing.
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your baby, can both be impacted in a wide variety of ways by an iron deficiency. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant person.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: When you get pregnant, your body is doing an extreme amount of work. Your hormones and circulatory system are experiencing lots of changes, as an outcome.
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, common things like blockages, sinus infections, and ear infections can trigger hearing loss.
- High blood pressure: While you are pregnant, high blood pressure can trigger tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your doctor about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. Serious ailments, including preeclampsia, can trigger high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be tracked.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss may be hard to determine. Regularly talking to your doctor and keeping an eye on your symptoms is the key here.
How is this form of hearing loss treated?
The underlying cause of this kind of hearing loss will largely dictate the course of treatment. The question that many people have is: will my hearing return to normal? In most cases, yes, your hearing will return to normal once your pregnancy is over, or maybe even before.
But it’s also important to get treatment for any symptoms you notice because getting your hearing back isn’t always a given. You might need additional treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for instance. The results will also depend on how quickly you get treatment when it comes to abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.
That’s why it’s so important to be certain that you report these symptoms to your provider. The next step will most likely be a complete hearing assessment to eliminate any more severe conditions and try to diagnose the inherent cause.
Protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is something you should watch out for especially when you’re pregnant. One of the best ways to do that is to stay in touch with us and with your care team. Schedule a hearing exam with us right away.